Most who are grieving are doing so because of one certain event, one certain season of their lives. The death of a loved one, a severe illness, a tragedy that reaches out and grips them and takes over their lives suddenly and completely. Their grief may lead them to seek comfort from others. Being surrounded by family and friends may be of comfort to them. They may even want to talk about their grief... Remember the person that they love so dearly, lament over the health crisis that is invading their lives in such a horrible way.
It seems that no matter what one does in their grief, how they react, there is one consistent part of the process... It is the desire of those that love them so help them find comfort and peace in their time of need.
As each of my eight placements have left, I have grieved in their absence. Some of these children I have had for five months, some for two days, some for almost a year. But each of them has helped shape me into who I am today. Each of them was loved, IS loved. And each of them was (is) grieved.
As each child leaves, as I'm left with an empty home and empty arms, my grief compounds. Every loss is a reminder of what once was. Not just with that child, but with all of them. Every time one leaves, it's like I go backwards and feel the pain of every departure before them. The weight of this can be overwhelming, unbearable, terrifying.
In my two+ years of fostering, I have found that, for me, NOT talking about it helps. I don't want to share stories, to sit and regale memories of the "good ol' days." I don't want to answer questions. I don't want to hear the cliché responses that people seem to think will help. I just want to, in the midst of my heart shattering and lying in shards at my feet, pretend like I'm totally and completely normal, for once...
Yes, my façade may break every now and then. I may cry in front of you. I ask you for a hug... And nothing more. Just play my game. Humor me. Pretend with me that my life is completely normal.
For you see, this is the only way I can keep moving forward. I cannot continue to foster these children if I get bogged down in the muck and mire of self pity. I cannot accept another placement if I'm nursing festered wounds. If I am constantly looking to the day when I will lose a child, I will not have the courage it takes to accept and love them to begin with.
I know that "studies show" that people who don't deal with their grief aren't able to heal completely. I know that the "experts say" to talk about it... Get it out so you can eventually move into the "acceptance" stage of grief. To that end, I say this... Maybe one day I will. Maybe one day I'll be able to take the time to go through each stage of grief and deal with everything. Maybe one day...
But until then, there are too many children who need homes. Too many children who are being removed from their families because of abuse and neglect. Too many children who are more broken and battered than my heart will ever be. So for them, I will push the grief aside and wait for the phone call that will bring me my next little one to love on.